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Why Riot Fest Is Chicago’s Best Music Fest

I was on vacation in Bari, Italy in 2012, when I received a special offer for tickets for a music festival here that I had never heard of, Riot Fest.  Apparently Riot Fest had been going on for a few years at the now-closed Congress Theater in Chicago for some time, but I had never heard of it, even though I am fairly familiar with the local music scene.  In 2012, the fest moved outside for the first time, with the first night at the Congress, and then Saturday and Sunday outside at Humboldt Park.  The offer was for the two days at Humboldt Park, with a lineup that included Elvis Costello and Iggy and the Stooges for only $39 a ticket.  It seemed too good to be true.  I would pay that much to see either of them alone, not to mention everyone else playing.  So I bought two tickets and had a great time.  Humboldt Park was a great location, compact and easy to get around.  And don’t forget, it’s “Riot Fest and Carnival”, so they brought in carny rides, etc. creating a fun atmosphere.                                                                                                              So why is Riot Fest Chicago’s best music fest?  It’s the music.  Yes, actual music with people playing instruments and singing songs they have written.  And the lineup is generally very good.  I go to Chicago’s other major music fests, Pitchfork and Lollapalooza, and they have their good points, but for me, Riot Fest offers the best value in a great setting.  The citizens of Humboldt Park kicked the fest out after the 2014 fest, but the new location in Douglas Park is just as good, and certainly better than 2014, when Riot expanded and the logistics of getting around were impossible.  It has it’s problems, but I love Riot Fest and can’t wait to go back next September.  


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